Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Swimming with Big Fat Mermaids in Florida

Among my list of 1,000 things to do is swimming with mermaids - not real mermaids unfortunately, but 17th century sailors referred to those friendly, slow moving aquatic mammals called manatees as mermaids.

This has got to be at the top of the list of family holidays to Florida.  On the west coast of Florida, we visited the people at Birds Underwater on a clear, still morning. We geared up in wetsuits, and headed out by pontoon boat onto the Crystal River.

During the three hour tour we snorkeled the shallow, glassy, cool waters of the Crystal River. Three times we came across the slow moving mermaids, and were able to slither quietly into the water and swim within inches of them. A family of three circled around the boat, almost inviting us to join their family time.

During our search through the lagoons of the Crystal River we found ourselves looking face to face with an alligator turtle. Looking grotesquely fearsome and prehistoric we stayed our distance as best we could, but figured if we were going to swim with princesses, we might have to face some dragons too.

Why not try a swim with the mermaids as part of your 1,000 things to do? This is one I've accomplished already.

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